Following up on an earlier post I'd written, I've been thinking about why people play RPGs. I'm not entirely happy with what I've got, so far, but I'll recount a few of the experiences that have defined why I love this type of game so much.
First, of course, is the awesomeness of Hell's Gambit. That's still the best role-playing experience I've ever had, although the other incidents I'm about to describe come close...
In a World of Darkness game we were recently playing, one of the NPCs named Leona freaked out and refused to help us in our war on the Fae. Maria's character, Ivy, gave an amazing speech and turned the whole thing around. It was a big moment in the game, and probably the most impactful (to me, but I'm biased) one we had in the whole game. It had genuine drama to it, and I felt like I'd met and interacted with someone... real isn't the right word, but it's what I got, so it's what I'll use.
The first full session of my current Burning Wheel game is based on Ireland around the time of the Romans forsaking that area of the world, with fae thrown in (noticing a theme here?). One of my players (my sister, actually), was the daughter of the king who had unified three different tribes under him and tried to make a "new Rome" in Ireland. Colleen (Anna's character) had to say good-bye to her childhood friend, an elf who had been cursed by her wicked twin sister. In what was a heart-wrenching scene, the elf finally told her friend of twenty years what her true name was, Autumn, and walked into the forest, telling Colleen she'd probably see the elf before the elf saw her again. It's still Colleen's driving motivation to find out what happened to Autumn and do whatever she can to avenge her friend.
Another one of my favorite moments comes from the same game Hell's Gambit is based, where Didier the elf shot one arrow, killed 1,000 enemies, and opened a rift in reality, causing it to almost collapse in on itself. What was interesting was how everyone reacted, from the schizo-Gant to the more sensibly minded Eela. There was a lot of drama as the group imploded on itself trying to figure out how in the world to fix the rift and the arguments that followed after the rift was actually closed.
See, I haven't quite it all put together yet, but if someone was to ask me why I'd want other people to play RPGs, I'd point to these moments and say: "So you can have experiences like this". I'll ponder a bit more, but there ya have it.